30 December 2012

Luke 2:41-52

"Did you not know that I must be in my Father’s house?" (v. 49)


According to the teaching of the Old Testament, all adult male Jews were required to be in Jerusalem three times a year for major festivals: the Feast of Passover, the Feast of Weeks, and the Feast of Tabernacles. Here the holy family are described as travelling up to Jerusalem for the Feast of Passover when Jesus was 12 years old (verse 42).

We don't know why Joseph and Mary were unaware of the fact that Jesus was not with their party when they began the return journey, though the fact that it happened should not be deemed impossible in the light of what happened recently to David and Samantha Cameron when they left their daughter behind by mistake at a pub!

When Jesus was eventually tracked down, he was found in the temple discussing religious matters with the teachers of the law. Jewish boys normally committed themselves to obey the law at their bar mitzvah ceremony at the age of 13, so Jesus was perhaps preparing himself for that step. At all events, he clearly showed a remarkably deep understanding of the Law (verses 46-47).

More interesting still, however, is Jesus' reply to his parents' rebuke, which may be translated either "Did you not know that I must be in my Father's house?" or "Did you not know that I must be about my Father's interests?" (v. 49). In other words, Jesus shows already, at the age of 12, an awareness of God as hisheavenly Father and also an awareness of the need to put his allegiance to his heavenly Father above his allegiance to his earthly parents.

Luke's Gospel presents Jesus' sonship to God as unique (Luke 1:32), but it also teaches, through the Lord's Prayer (Luke 11:2-4), that his disciples can share in that relationship, in a secondary way, through him. What a privilege!  

To Ponder

  • How strong is your consciousness of God as your heavenly Father?
  • Are there any points in your life at the moment in which your allegiance to God stands in tension with other allegiances? If so, how can those tensions best be resolved? 

Bible notes author

The Revd Peter Ensor

Peter Ensor is a Methodist minister who teaches New Testament, biblical languages, and Early Church history at Cliff College, Derbyshire. He has also worked as a theological educator in Kenya, Cameroon and Ethiopia, and has served in three english circuits, latterly as superintendent of the Hazel Grove and Poynton Circuit in the Manchester District.